2012 MLS Positional Rankings: Keepers

2012 MLS Positional Rankings: Keepers

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 2, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Power Rankings, 2012 MLS Season, Features

Hartman has been consistent since joining FC Dallas. (Getty Images)

It is that time again, time to get to the annual positional rankings here on WVHooligan.com. Just as always I’ll start from the back of the line up and work my way up the field with each MLS side.

So that means today is all about the guys between the pipes, the keepers.

I’ll admit, the keepers may be the toughest group to do as I tend to try to look at the overall picture with each team, not just the starters. Teams with a good starter and a reliable backup are tough to find in this league but some teams have made it work over the years.

The starters on this list do heavily weight their team’s ranking. But having a solid backup waiting in the wings helped a couple other clubs move up.

1. FC Dallas (Kevin Hartman/Chris Seitz/Richard Sanchez) – In a way this is a 1a and a 1b with number two but the backups is what really did it for Dallas in this ranking. Hartman has been consistent as ever in Dallas and Seitz is a decent enough backup that can fill in when needed (plus, he’s put in a ton of work this preseason to make sure he is ready for whenever his time comes). Then you have a third stringer in Sanchez who has won a U17 World Cup, impressive.

2. Real Salt Lake (Nick Rimando/Kyle Reynish/Eduardo Fernández) – Rimando is right there with Hartman in my book. Some days I view him better than Hartman, other days I view him below Hartman. What came down to this ranking was Reynish. He’s been with the club for years now but he doesn’t have nearly as much experience as Seitz does. However, I do believe he’ll get his chance before long with this club. He’s a quality backup that can fill in and do well at the same time. 

3. LA Galaxy (Josh Saunders/Brian Perk/Bill Gaudette) – I’ve been very high on Saunders for a couple years now and he’s finally getting his chance to be the true number one in LA. His backups have some decent experience, particularly with Gaudette. Perk is young and won’t likely see a ton of time this year, except for maybe in some Open Cup games. I do think he could be their future keeper one day though, as he has a ton of potential.

4. Columbus Crew (Will Hesmer/Andy Gruenebaum/Matt Lampson) – Hesmer has been another guy I’ve been high one for a few years as well. I think he is drastically underrated by many around the league. When it comes to quality backups I believe Gruenebaum may be one of the better ones as well. He’s got plenty of experience and is just another one of those keepers that is just waiting for his time to come.

5. Colorado Rapids (Matt Perkins/Stewart Ceus/Ian Joyce) – Hard to argue with Perkins in my book, the guy has a MLS Cup to his name and has done very well in the Mile High City. Ceus is proven to be a solid back up, he’s even played in some big Champions League games to boot.

6. Houston Dynamo (Tally Hall/Tyler Deric) – Hall came out of nowhere really last year to have a very impressive season. He helped lead Houston to a MLS Cup berth and showed he had the chops to be a quality starter in this league. Deric has had some issues off the field but the potential is still there for this guy to be a player in this league.

7. Sporting Kansas City (Jimmy Nielsen/Eric Kronberg/Jon Kempin) – Nielsen has been a fairly consistent starter during his time in KC. I do expect a fairly big year from him this season which could have him higher up this list at the end of the season. Kronberg comes into the season hurt so should Nielsen go down a Home Grown keeper in Kempin would have to step up in a big way.

8. Chicago Fire (Sean Johnson/Jay Nolly) – I went back and forth with Chicago while making these rankings. On some days I feel they could be as high as five or six on this list and other days as low as 10 or 11. I love Johnson and his game, he has so much potential to be the next big American keeper to come out of this league. Nolly had some starting experience in Vancouver last year so he can and will likely have to fill in this summer while Johnson is away with the Olympic team.

9. Toronto FC (Stefan Frei/Milos Kosic) – This is another group that I really felt could be higher or lower depending on the day. I ended up with them here simply because there are times when both keepers can be inconsistent with their game. I think Frei is still a very quality keeper that has a ton of potential left in him. Kosic showed last year that he could fill in at anytime and be pretty solid at it.

10. Seattle Sounders (Michael Gspurning/Josh Ford/Andrew Weber) – Replacing Kasey Keller is no easy task but the things I’ve read about Gspurning is that this guy has the ability to make fans move on from Keller retirement in a hurry. A new keeper to this league is tough to place in a ranking like this, which is why I’ve placed him right around the middle. Seems fair. His backups though are decent but very unproven.

11. Chivas USA (Dan Kennedy/Tim Melina) – Kennedy was very good last year and at times looked like a Keeper of the Year candidate. As good as he is his backup isn’t nearly as strong or as proven. I almost feel like this is a generous ranking for Chivas but given how good Kennedy was last year it is pretty justified.

12. San Jose Earthquakes (Jon Busch/David Bingham) – I do believe this ranking could have been higher had we saw a little more of Bingham last year. Sure he scored a goal in a friendly but that was about it. Busch is still a quality starter but he has shown at times that he can let a goal or two slip in a bit too easy.

13. Portland Timbers (Troy Perkins/Jake Gleeson/Joe Bendik) – I like Perkins, I always have but there were a few times too many last year where he just let the game get away from him. Gleeson did prove he could be a decent backup at times last year as well. I think this ranking though could be higher by the end of this season. Last year was a growing pains kind of year for Portland overall as an expansion team. Expect more this year.

14. Montreal Impact (Donovan Ricketts/Evan Bush/Greg Sutton) – This one feels low for Ricketts who has been a very strong starter over the last couple years in LA. My main reason for bumping him and the Impact this low is due to injuries. Ricketts picks up a knock or two a little too consistent as he’s gotten older. That can be tough to deal with as an expansion team. Bush was good in the NASL last year but MLS should be a whole lot tougher for him. Sutton has starter experience in Toronto and New York but I have never been that high on him.

15. D.C. United (Bill Hamid/Joe Wills/Andrew Dykstra) – United fans will likely hate me for his but their team has three very young keepers. Yes, Hamid is a stud and I do believe he will elevate this ranking by the end of the year but should he go cold or get hurt their backups situation isn’t anything to get excited about right now. Both Wills and Dykstra have experience but not enough to make me want to push this ranking any higher. Dare I say it, prove me wrong guys.

16. Philadelphia Union (Zac MacMath/Chase Harrison) – A big, big blow for this club was letting Faryd Mondragon go in the offseason. Yes, MacMath looked like a proven starter at the end of last season and I do believe this ranking will be higher at the end of the season. But boy, should something go wrong with MacMath this could be a tough season for the Union in goal.

17. New England Revolution (Matt Reis/Bobby Shuttleworth/Tim Murry) – I still think very highly of Reis but given the fact that he picks up an injury here and there and Shuttleworth isn’t that ready for prime time, this ranking feels about right. New England was leaky last year for a reason, not just their defense being poor.

18. Vancouver Whitecaps (Joe Cannon/Brad Knighton) – This is one of those prove me wrong rankings. I think Cannon and Knighton have the ability to be good for the Caps this season and can make this ranking higher. The thing is and we saw it last year with this bunch, when one keeper does bad the other will have to step up. Neither Cannon nor Jay Nolly stepped up last year. Knighton has to prove he can take the job from Cannon in my book.

19. New York Red Bulls (Jeremy Vuolo/Ryan Merea) – There really was no argument about who would be last in my book in this ranking. Two highly unproven keepers in MLS are battling it out for the starting role. Each have to prove something to me and the rest of the league here.


Karl Mongold
  • Mar 2 2012
While I understand you putting DCU relatively low (as much as I'd like to disagree), placing Chicago above DCU with Jay Nolly as the seond string and rating Sean Johnson substantially higher than Bill Hamid makes me call B.S. on this.  In only a hand full of league starts Joe Willis has shown himself to be a more solid 'keeper mentally than I've ever seen from Nolly.  Further, having seen Sean Johnson play almost as much as Hamid I don't understand why you rate him so much higher, they both have great physical tools and have had a fairly even number of mental mistakes in the past.  
    Drew Epperley
    • Mar 2 2012
    Just one writer's opinion Karl. It is nothing against Hamid and I know he's rater higher than Johnson by others out there but I've just been more impressed with Johnson than I have of Hamid. I'll recap these at the end of the season and honestly I hope I am dead wrong on Hamid and DC. 
Alan Clark
  • Mar 2 2012
Would be interested to see a straight up article on the starting GKs.  I'm another who pretty much completely disagrees with you across the board.   Pickens is a terrible keeper, probably bottom 3-4 starter in the league and CEus and Joyce don't bring much either - I'd put their GK stable as 3rd worst in the league despite a championship.  .  Obviously NY and Philly are basically taking a huge chance with their keeping situations....MacMath's 7 starts don't qualify him to succeed.  He has a chance, but he's a huge risk and a massive drop off from Mondragon.  Obviously I'm a TFC fan, but Frei and Kocic are a much better 1-2 than you're giving them credit for too.
  • Mar 2 2012
Drew, don't forget LA's other backup keeper - Make Magee....
  • Mar 2 2012
Nice to see Hesmer get some due credit.